What’s your creativity worth?

Picture: Empty cupboards in abandoned kitchen, Bodie State Historic Park, California

Image: Empty cupboards in abandoned kitchen, Bodie State Historic Park, California


With a lot of stuff going on at the moment, I’ve been in a bit of a socially reclusive mode due to lack of time, but every once and awhile, something comes up that prompts me to raise my head up and speak. In this case, the quote of the day is, “Seriously???”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Value your work. If you don’t, no one else will. I have far more respect for photographers who choose to give work away, via a donation or with a creative commons license, than I do for photographers or other creatives that put such little monetary value on their work.

Heck, even I give my images away from time to time, when the spirit or cause moves me. Free is not the same as worthless. But accepting $0.50 an image sure makes it appear that your work is as close to worthless as you can get.


Wanting an iPhone photographer (mountain view)
Date: 2012-05-21, 6:57PM PDT
Reply to: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@comm.craigslist.org

I need someone who can take photographs of Bay Area businesses (storefronts, inside, restaurants etc.), interesting scenery, town and city landmarks etc for a travel information guide I am putting together.

These are not for high res printing so the resolution provided by good smartphones will be fine. You just need to be able to take a good shot, no reflections of you in the pic, get permission where needed etc.

Given that most people have cameras on their phones, I just thought it would be a good opportunity for you to make some money without too much effort.

University students – this would be perfect for you. I will pay 50 cents for every photo I can use. Payment will be made by Paypal for each photo I use.

10 photos = 5 bucks
100 photos = 50 bucks!!

All I need is your confirmation that you took the photo (and so you have the copyright) and that you grant a royal free license to use the pictures on my websites and publications.

Tell me about yourself, where you are based/can photograph. Example photos would be great.



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7 Comments on “What’s your creativity worth?”

  1. Russ Bishop Says:

    I completely agree Gary. I may be old school, but quality will always have value and that will never go out of fashion. We saw it with RF, then Microstock, and now iPhoneography will likely put a downward spin on image value. As you say there’s nothing wrong with giving your work away for a good cause or other legitimate compensation, but to sell it on the open market for pennies is a worthless strategy.

  2. Belinda Schneider Says:

    I totally agree! The same with art. I have donated art when it is for a cause I care about, and that is MY choice, my gift, but I have actually been contacted by what I thought were potential new clients who expected me to work for free…actually less than free because they thought I would pay for expenses incurred as well…even though I had no idea they existed before these calls. Creativity is actually work. Beloved work, but it takes time It takes patience. It takes a part of us to achieve the results that we envision. If it was not a talent and ability practised and perfected, then no one would NEED to ask anyone else to do it. It is because creativity is so individual and impacts others that it is prized.

  3. Brian Snyder Says:

    I also agree with you Gary. If this person is so cheap, he needs to go there and do it himself. He must value his time much more than anyone else’s.

  4. David Leland Hyde Says:

    Important rant, Gary. The Craigslist posting reminds me of that old saying that there’s a sucker born every minute and two to take him. It’s too bad that these suckers and takers are ruining the livelihood of so many dedicated hard working artists. The day nobody can afford to be full-time in photography is the day the medium DIES.

  5. David Leland Hyde Says:

    Oh, and by the way, that’s a great photo. Did you take it from outside the building somehow or did they let you inside? I never saw anything like that in Bodie. Most buildings were closed and the windows very dirty.

  6. Tony Says:

    Quite a poigniant message, but at the end of the day an artist deserves respect for what they produce and not what they decide to value their work at.
    Anyway… I would be honoured if you would include your great photography resource to Geotog.com
    Regards Tony

  7. John - Visual Notebook Says:

    What’s my creativity worth? D&@n well more than 50 cents! This guy obviously doesn’t care that much about the quality of the images he receives (since smartphone images are okay). Trouble is, there’s always people out there that will take “advantage” of this, just so they can say they’ve sold something. Indeed they have: their integrity!

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